Russia showed its military might on Sunday with parades across the country to commemorate the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.

President Vladimir Putin discussed the main Victory Day parade in Moscow’s Red Square around 12,000 soldiers, almost 200 pieces of military equipment and transfers of airplanes and helicopters. Putin watched the ad with Soviet war veterans from a review platform.

Since Putin came to power two decades ago, either as president or prime minister, he has sought to restore symbols of the Soviet and Russian past to promote patriotism.

During his address on the 76th anniversary of the Allied victory over Nazi Germany, Putin swore that Russia would defend its national interests and denounced the return of “Russophobia”.

“We will vigorously defend our national interests to ensure the security of our people, “said Putin.

This year’s parade will take place when the ruling United Russia party is facing parliamentary elections in September. Polls show that support for the pro-Kremlin party has fallen to 27 percent.

Russia’s relations with the West have also ignored everything, from the fate of the imprisoned opposition leader Aleksei Navalny to the conflict in Ukraine.

In recent weeks, the United States and Russia have expelled each other’s diplomats in a series of retaliatory acts, while Moscow and EU member states have been embroiled in similar diplomatic clashes.

The military parades come after Russia recently deployed more than 100,000 soldiers near the border with Ukraine and in annexed Crimea. The buildup raised alarms about Moscow’s intentions in western capitals as fighting between Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed separatists increased in the east of the country.

Russia has since withdrawn most of its troops but left some military equipment behind and continues to conduct naval exercises in the Black Sea.